Remembering Tiananmen - Macleans.ca

Remembering Tiananmen

A cartoon has evoked June 1989

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Chinese censors aren’t laughing. A cartoon published in a Chinese newspaper last week appears to refer to the violent crackdown in 1989 on protesters in Tiananmen Square. It shows a boy drawing a solitary figure standing in front of a series of three tanks on a school blackboard, echoing Tiananmen’s most iconic image: a lone man in a white shirt stopping a row of tanks by standing in front of them.

Defying a long-standing ban on mentioning the event, the outspoken Southern Metropolis Daily ran the drawing just days before the 21st anniversary on June 4. It was quickly pulled from the paper’s website, where it appeared among several others celebrating International Children’s Day on June 1. Observant readers soon began circulating and commenting on the cartoon (working around China’s so-called “Great Firewall”), no doubt raising the eyebrows of authorities.

China’s government still has not fully disclosed what happened when Chinese troops killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of students and workers who for weeks had gathered in the square to demand freedom.

Censoring has worked so well, in fact, that many young Chinese have never heard of the massacre. They might have questions now.